The End of the Jersey Boys
After four years, Eric hangs up his jerseys
Eric Matecun doesn’t remember the jersey he wore when the streak began. But you better believe the 12-year-old from Wixom will remember which one he’s wearing today when it ends.
On the eve of the Pistons’ 2009-10 season finale, Eric will wear a Pistons jersey to school Tuesday - but not on Wednesday, ending his streak of consecutive days wearing at Pistons jersey at 1,460 days: precisely four years.
“I want to stop on an even number,” he said at a Pistons game in February, wearing the jersey of his favorite Pistons player, Rodney Stuckey.
Eric was eight when the streak began, taking a cue from his 10-year-old brother, Bryan, who had begun doing the same thing three weeks earlier. Bryan’s streak ended when he became a freshman at Walled Lake Western last fall, opting for a more traditional high school wardrobe.
“It felt different, definitely,” said Bryan, 14. “We had to go shopping.”
Eric, however, inherited all of his brother’s jerseys. He wore at least nine different ones during the streak, and that’s just the ones he can recall: Arron Afflalo, Chauncey Billups, two of Rip Hamilton, Jason Maxiell, Tayshaun Prince, Stuckey, Ben Wallace (3, not 6), and a personalized one with his name and favorite number, 43.
The Afflalo jersey is sore spot for Terri, who bought the No. 28 jersey just weeks before he was traded to Denver. If the player wasn’t going to wear a Pistons jersey with his name on it, Eric wouldn’t, either. The Afflalo jersey received a hasty retirement.
Bryan and Eric in 2007.
Ryan Pretzer (Pistons Photo)
Ryan Pretzer (Pistons Photo)
“He was only wearing Pistons jerseys,” Terry said, “and they were no longer Pistons.”
The player turnover has been tough on a lot of fans, who watched the Pistons slip from title contention to the draft lottery over the last four years. But Eric says keeping the streak going during the tough times - like the 13-game losing streak in December and January - didn’t bother him at all. Not even some good-natured ribbing from friends could get him to turn on his Pistons.
"Say those things when they're winning the championship again,” Eric told a reporter who was interviewing die-hard fans about the Pistons’ struggles. “They've just had some injuries. I still say they'll win the championship next year, the next year after that...every year."
Overall, though, Eric’s friends and teachers have enjoyed Eric’s daily tribute. They're losing their favorite conversation starter.
“Like everyday when I walk down the hallway, they’re like, ‘how many days?’ and I tell them,” he said. “I lost track now, but my mom has it on a calendar so I can check that every time.”
Eric isn’t done wearing jerseys entirely. He still hopes to suit up for the eighth-grade team at Sarah Banks Middle School, where he was on the seventh-grade squad this year. And the Pistons jerseys will make it out of the closet, too, on occasion.
Though the streak has ended, in a special sense it hasn’t. A fan as true blue as Eric still wears his Pistons pride everyday. You just have to look a little harder.